The first-of-its kind “Crisis on Earth-X,” a four-way CW superhero show crossover, aired over the course of two days starting on Nov. 27. The episodes feature the heroes of “Arrow” (2014–), “The Flash” (2014–), “Legends of Tomorrow” (2016–) and “Supergirl” (2015–) joining forces in one universe.
The CW has done crossovers before, including the musical crossover episode between “Supergirl” and “The Flash” and the “Invasion!” crossover between “Legends of Tomorrow,” “The Flash” and “Arrow.” However, “Crisis on Earth-X” was the first of such scale and magnitude as it included all four of The CW’s superhero shows, with the addition of “Supergirl,” now in its second season with the network after switching from CBS after its first year.
Taking place in the “Arrowverse,” from which three of the four shows originate, the plot of “Crisis on Earth-X” takes place partially outside of the arcs of the four shows. Oliver Queen is back in the Green Arrow suit for the first time since early this season, and Team Flash’s intellectual matchup with the Thinker is put on hold.
Meanwhile, the long-awaited wedding of Barry and Iris from “The Flash” gives the gang of superheroes an excuse to gather in the name of love, just as the wedding fans had been waiting for all season (and arguably since the establishment of the show three years ago). The wedding seemed like it was finally going to escape interruption, but the Nazis show up and all hell breaks loose.
Now in a time-traveling, universe-hopping world, a mass Nazi entrance isn’t out of the realm of possibility, and as it turns out, these Nazis came from an Earth “so horrific” it doesn’t have a designated number within the 52 known Earths. To make things more interesting, each of the three main heroes opposes an evil nemesis. Kara’s (from “Supergirl”) and Oliver’s (from “Arrow”) foes are their doppelgängers, married leaders of the Nazis forces, while Barry’s foe Eobard Thawne makes a reappearance to oppose the Flash.
In other words, this crossover is all the kinds of cliche that normal people hate and superhero fans relish.
There are plenty of over-the-top and borderline obnoxious montages of the heroes preparing for and walking into battle, one of which was so long that audible laughter would be acceptable, if not expected. This is not to mention all the cliche fighting-in-a-dark-warehouse scenes where the viewer can get some good, old-fashioned ass kickings.
The overarching theme of love is smattered throughout all four episodes of the series with every kind of relationship. In fact, the whole plotline hinged on the lengths characters would go to in order to protect their loved ones.
As overused as this theme may be, it didn’t stop the crossover from being dynamic and incredibly fun. Unexpected plot twists, fun cross-show character romances and dramatic cameos by characters both old and new from all the different shows made the event a memorable one, keeping viewers on their toes with unexpected twists and turns and a few shocking events.
From the reappearance of previously offed characters “Legends of Tomorrow” favorite Leonard Snart (Wentworth Miller) and “Arrow” guest star Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell) to the mini romance between Sara Lance and Alex Danvers, from “Legends of Tomorrow” and “Supergirl” respectively, the price to be paid by the waging war between Earth-X Nazis and the DC heroes is offset by lighthearted comedy and relationship drama between characters.
While this plotline seems, and for the majority of the four-episode series is, incredibly cheesy, it also provides an undercurrent of social commentary on the state of the Union. Particularly prevalent in “Supergirl,” The CW sometimes uses its shows as a platform to comment on the political and social situation in the country. While not the main focus of the crossover, the saga nonetheless provided viewers with political parallels to our Earth.
Most prominently within these politically charged moments was the idea of intolerance.
In the age of Donald Trump and populism, neo-Nazi sentiment has come to the forefront of world politics more than once, making the Nazi dystopia an interesting and ideologically relevant topic. This portrayal of a Nazi-dominated world works as a reminder of the horrific repercussions of prejudice and the brainwashing abilities of powerful political forces, especially when dominating everyday life.
Obviously, the Nazi reign was well known for bigotry, but this story chronicles the larger flaws in blindly following a political party and ideology. Brought up in the second episode of the series (“Arrow 6×09″) with the conversation between Oliver and Tommy, his dead best friend’s doppelgänger, the idea of lacking the critical thinking skills to look beyond party lines towards human compassion recalls the current polarized political climate that divides America.
In addition, it takes up the sentiment of intolerance toward the LGBTQ community, reinforcing the social critique of loss of humanity in favor of intolerance and returning to the thematic focus on the power of love.
Overdone? Probably. Dramatic? Perhaps. But such reminders of what is good in this world, as clichéd as it sounds, shed a little light in the obscurity of politics. It’s a place where Nazi sentiment can be vanquished with an arrow and heat vision, rather than the much more complicated solutions necessary for the world’s current deep-seated turmoil.
This four-way crossover has proved to be an adequate break from the too often brutal realities of finals, politics and real life, providing a cheesy, heartfelt and, at times, thrilling portrayal of conflict and love.